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Will Lockwood Gets Longer Look with Florida Panthers, Heads Home for Christmas

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Florida Panthers forward William Lockwood is back in Michigan for the holidays — but he has already been to Detroit once this season as he is pictured during the first period of a game against the Red Wings on Nov. 2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

SUNRISE — As most of his teammates with the Florida Panthers were still milling about and enjoying the afterglow of a 4-2 win over Vegas on Saturday afternoon, Will Lockwood quickly showered and set out for the airport. 

Over the years, a postgame flight for Lockwood following an NHL game may have meant a reassignment to the minors, but not this day.

No, Lockwood was flying to Detroit for the holidays.

“I’m going to catch a flight, see my parents,” Lockwood said a few days ago. “It has been a little while since I have seen the fam. It will be good to get home for a day or two, just relax with the family. Have some good food. It’s going to be great. I haven’t been there since summer, so I miss the place. It will be good.’’

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When Anton Lundell and Jonah Gadjovich fell ill during their recent western road trip, the Panthers called Lockwood back from their American Hockey League team in Charlotte. 

They have liked what they have seen thus far. 

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Lockwood came back to Florida with three goals and seven points in 14 games with the Checkers.

“I like what Will Lockwood has done here an awful lot and he is going to get a real good look here,’’ Florida coach Paul Maurice recently said. “He has great speed, is on the puck and we are noticing that line again. … He put himself on the radar (in training camp) to the point where, if he was a callup, the coaches would go ‘sure, let’s bring him back in.’ He has been good down there in Charlotte and knows the system.”

Lockwood has certainly deserved this extended look. 

After a strong training camp, Lockwood was one of Florida’s final cuts.

When the Panthers decided to send fellow Michigan alum Mackie Samoskevich down to Charlotte to get expanded playing time after three games, Florida called up Lockwood.

Lockwood ended up playing in seven games before being sent back on Nov. 13. 

He may stick around a little longer on the fourth line with Lomberg and Kevin Stenlund. 

Or, he could be headed back to Charlotte if the Panthers want to see more of Gadjovich or Steven Lorentz

“Things do not change from the last time I was up,’’ Lockwood said. “They have specific things they want me to do and that suits my game really well. It is going out there, skating hard, going after pucks and using my feet. It is nothing but hard work. My focus is being in the game completely, constantly being dialed in no matter how much time you get on the ice. I have to keep the pace up.’’

The Panthers signed Lockwood to a two-year contract over the summer after he spent the entirety of his pro career with Vancouver. 

A third-round pick in 2016, Lockwood spent four seasons at Michigan and was captain of the Wolverines as a senior in 2019-20.

Lockwood made his pro debut with Vancouver’s Utica Comets in 2021 after Covid delayed the start of that season. He made his NHL debut against Calgary on May 18 of that year.

He played 28 games with Vancouver in three seasons and has now played 11 with the Panthers over the past three months.

Lockwood is looking forward to more.

“I have great communication with Lomberg, he talks a lot and that is great for a young guy like me who hasn’t played too many NHL games,” he said. “You always hope for a good year and, ever since camp, you just get a good vibe from everyone in this organization. The style fits my game well. I feel fortunate it has worked out so far and I am going to keep doing what I can to stay.’’

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Tampa Bay: Wednesday, Feb. 17. At Florida: March 16.
  • Last season: Even 2-2
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 75-50-19, 10 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Friday vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.

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